Presentation on theme: "Ford Foundation Conference on “Finance, Business Models, and Sustainable Prosperity ” New York, December 2012 Dic Lo SOAS, University of London."— Presentation transcript:
Ford Foundation Conference on “Finance, Business Models, and Sustainable Prosperity ” New York, December 2012 Dic Lo SOAS, University of London
Theme The explanation of China’s sustained rapid economic growth in the reform era has always been a matter of debate. There exists a body of studies which highlights the role of the state. These include studies that apply the theory of industrial policy, and highlight the role of finance. The aim of this presentation is to show that the role of the state has been far more complex. We seek to show that state influences on economic development have taken the forms of creating the enabling environment and direct intervention, the latter encompassing industrial policy. We argue that, on the whole, the state has played a significantly positive role in Chinese economic development – in terms of promoting structural change, and thereby growth in productivity and employment. And the seemingly inefficient financial sector has made a significantly positive contribution to this process of development.
Basic Observations (a) Structural change: from labor-intensive industrialization in first half of reform era (1978-1992) to capital-deepening industrialization in the second half (1993-present). Figure 1. (b) Ownership and control: public ownership was predominant in first half of reform era, whilst indirect state control (via state firms and banks) was the norm in the second half. Figure 2. (c) State capacity: decentralization and the interaction between the central government and local governments – sometimes synergic, sometimes mutually defeating. Market reform: commercialization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and state banks, expansion of private firms, and increased competition. (d) The demand regime: from consumption-led growth in first half of reform era to investment-led growth in second half.
Figure 1. Incremental capital-output ratio (five-year moving averages) Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, various years. Note: ICOR = dK/dY, where dK = I = total fixed asset investment, dY = GDP of current year minus GDP of previous year.
Figure 2. Shares of SOEs in output, employment and capital of industry total Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, various years. Note: V = industrial value-added, K = net value of fixed assets, L = number of employees. Note that a significant proportion of non-SOEs are also with state agents as the ultimate owners-controllers.
Conceptual Issues Point (a) is immediately relevant to the literature on industrial policy, i.e., the debate on comparative advantage-following (CAF) vs. comparative advantage-defying (CAD) strategies. But analysing the CAF-CAD characteristics of structural change might be insufficient for establishing the role of industrial policy in Chinese economic development. Even if a CAF path of structural change is in line with principles of the market, it does not follow that a CAD path must be the product of state intervention, or, more specifically, of state industrial policy. In a world of increasing returns and demand-led productivity growth, the demand regimes matter in shaping the path of structural change. What has been the role of state actions in this regard, i.e., point (d)?
Conceptual Issues The industrial policy literature is also about the conditions for the working of alternative strategies – in particular, the developmental state vs. crony capitalism, i.e., points (b), and (c). Under what circumstances will long-term developmental concerns prevail – rather than purely short-term profits, or even unproductive rent-seeking activities? Washington Consensus : technological transfer and thereby economic development is an automatic outcome of the market. The modified view: structural change in line with the principle of comparative advantage might not always materialize, because of market failures in delivering the necessary technological development.
Conceptual Issues Theories of industrial policy: industrialization is more than realizing the principle of comparative advantage, given the importance of dynamic increasing returns and economies of scale and scope. Theories of the national innovation systems: in the era of information revolution, the precondition for late development is the building up of not just production capacity as such but rather the innovation capability for absorbing, assimilating, and improving upon imported technology The Washington Consensus and the modified positions from the Washington institutions implicitly assume a pure market within which productivity-improving structural change takes place. The theories of industrial policy and the “national innovation system” are more aware of the complex and shifting nature of the world market in reality – esp. the influences of financialization.
Enabling Environment and Direct Intervention In the first half of reform era, state action in the creation of the enabling environment, and inaction in direct intervention, were the norm. Economic development follow a labour-intensive industrialization path – carried out by market-oriented non-state firms (mostly collective township and village enterprises). State action focused on market reform. State-owned enterprises and state banks took up the adjustment cost of reform, while fostering wage growth and job security, which were the underpinning of the prevailing path of consumption-led industrialization. In the second half of reform era, state activism in both respects. Public finance was mainly responsible for productive investment. Hence the path of capital-deepening, investment-led industrialization, carried out mainly by SOEs in upstream materials industries and TNCs in high- tech industries.
Enabling Environment and Direct Intervention State industrial policy, i.e., direct intervention for promoting the development of selected industries, mostly failed in first half of reform era but had considerable success in second half. The sufficiency or otherwise of the enabling environment together with the nature of the economic agents carrying out the development – private firms, SOEs, TNCs, etc. – determine success or failure. Three revealing cases: automobile, semiconductor, and high-speed rail, the former two have had industrial policies early on since the 1980s. In the first half of reform era, both the TNCs-led auto industry and the SOEs-led semiconductor industry failed to develop. In the second half of reform era, the two industries, like other high-tech industries, finally took off: explosive output expansion and fast technological progress (Figure 3 ).
Figure 3. Output of cars and integrated circuits Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, various years.
Industrial Policy: Strength and Limitation Lack of investment was the immediate cause of development failures in first half of reform era, against the background of massive investment and very fast technological progress of the two industries in the world. In the case of the auto industry, the strategy of “market protection in exchange for technology transfer” did not work: the TNCs did not have sufficient incentives to invest in technological upgrading. In the case of the semiconductor industry, the designated SOEs did not receive the investment funding as promised/envisaged in the industrial policy. Insufficiency in (domestic) demand further reinforced the insufficient incentives to invest, both for the TNCs and the domestic agents (SOEs, state banks, local governments, and even the central government itself).
Industrial Policy: Strength and Limitation The successful development in second half of reform era has been, discernibly, accounted for by three factors: state creation of demand, state action to foster investment in technological upgrading, and the formation of conducive market competition. Demand creation has been achieved by state infrastructural investment: the building up of the highway system (Figure 4) which boosted the demand for cars, and of the telecom infrastructure (Figure 5) which boosted the demand for semiconductors. Massive state investment in infrastructure was initially as an anti-crisis policy in response to the East Asian financial crisis, but has seemed to become a long-term strategy. Note this is a complete reversal of the policy doctrine of the 1990s – precisely, the neoliberalization period of 1993-1997 – where the overarching objective was to balance the state budget.
Figure 4. Length of electrified railways and expressways Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, various years.
Figure 5. Internet users (per 100 people, relative to high-income economies) Sources: World Development Indicators data bank, accessed 26 January 2012.
Industrial Policy: Strength and Limitation State action to foster technological progress manifests itself in the form of massive increases in R&D expenditures. This has been a general policy, not confined to particular industrial sectors. The nature of the immediate carriers of industrial development has also changed, amid the formation of an environment of basically conducive market competition. For both the semiconductor and auto industries, the model that has emerged is characterized by (a) the predominance of joint-ventures, and (b) increased competition among these companies. The semiconductor industry used to be dominated by SOEs up until the late 1990s, but it has since been dominated by joint-ventures. The auto industry has always been dominated by joint-ventures, but the number of players has increased to involve virtually all the main car-making TNCs of the world – over and above the protected “big three, small three” before turn of the century.
Industrial Policy: Strength and Limitation The predominance of local production by joint-ventures in the two industries, rather than by wholly TNCs-owned enterprises or imports, reflects the intention of state industrial policy and the action of domestic economic agents – in particular, local governments – which are the main domestic decision-makers in forming the joint ventures. In terms of performance, besides output expansion, the fact that local producers have been able to keep up with the pace of TNCs in the world market of turning out the latest models is an indication of the production capacity – and innovation capability – that has been built up. Another important indication is the rapid export expansion of the two industries in recent years, although from a modest base (Figure 6). But note that, whereas exports and imports have been basically in balance for automobile, very large and rapidly expanding trade deficits have been the case for integrated circuits.
Figure 6. Exports and imports of automobile and integrated circuits (USD 100 million) Sources: Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, official website.
Industrial Policy: Strength and Limitation It might thus be possible to infer that there is a serious limitation with this model of industrial development, i.e., joint ventures as the main carriers of the development of high-tech industries. This, namely, is the difficulty for the acquisition and development of frontier technology as is in the case of semiconductors – rather than mature technology as is in the case of cars. In this connection, a new model has emerged in recent years, where the main carrier of the development of frontier technology being SOEs. The development of high-speed railway technology is a prominent case. And the state plan to develop large-scale civilian aircraft manufacturing is in line with this new model.
Industrial Policy: Strength and Limitation China started to import world-frontier technology in 2004, with the targets of building up 200km/h trains in the first stage and 250km/h trains by 2009. The targets were more than achieved. Not only did domestic firms fully assimilate the imported technology, but they also managed to largely improve upon it. By 2011, an entirely domestically- produced train even managed to test the speed of 500 km/h. Within a short period, China has built up the largest network of high- speed rail in the world. And it has started to compete in the world market with world-frontier TNCs. This development has been characterized by: (a) a state industrial policy that is based on the anticipation of an enormous demand, (b) ample supply of funding from state-controlled finance, (c) oligopolistic, large- scale SOEs as the immediate carriers, and (d) well-defined targets of technology transfer and business operations in dealing with TNCs.
Industrial Policy: Strength and Limitation In terms of technological development, the case of high-speed rail is clearly a success. But there are potential dangers associated with the new model, as have been raised by the debate on crony capitalism. Already, there have been symptoms of bureaucratic excess and corruption in the development. It remains a challenge for the further development of the model in the face of the question as to when and where the relevant agents – SOEs, state banks, and government bodies – will behave in an entrepreneurial way, rather than indulging in unproductive rent-seeking or inefficient monopolistic practices.
The Role of the State-Finance Relationship The market reforms of the Chinese financial system since the late 1970s have been mainly a process of increasing liberalization, commercialization, and internationalization. The Chinese financial system has remained a mixed system, however - there still exist discretionary government intervention, the predominance of state banks in the sector, and the behavioral inclination of the banks towards causing excessive fluctuations. The commercialized (and part-privatized) state banks have fluctuated between short-term profit orientations and long-term developmental concerns (Figure 7). Hence the need for state activism, both the encouragement of financing productive investment and tough regulations (restrictions on financial innovations, capital controls…).
Figure 7. Annual growth of capital formation and bank loans Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, various years. Note: K-growth = growth of gross fixed capital formation, C-growth = growth of year-end outstanding loans of banking sector total, CSB-growth = growth of year-end outstanding loans of state banks.
The Role of the State-Finance Relationship From the perspective of financial liberalization: Chinese finance has often been characterized as a sector of inefficient, fragile institutions, protected by an underdeveloped system of regulations and controls. From the alternative Keynesian-Schumpeterian-Minskyan perspective: productive efficiency is no less important than allocative efficiency for economic development, and the unfettered functioning of the market is in no sense the best safeguard against financial crises. In the light of the contrasting perspectives, the allocative inefficiencies of Chinese finance can well be understood as a necessary trade-off with its advantage of promoting productive efficiency – esp. in the form of productive investment in line with state industrial policy. The tougher-than-usual regulations and controls separate out banking from the securities market – so that credit expansion mainly fuels productive investment and avoids speculative bubbles (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Stock Market Fluctuations and Bank Non-Performing Loans Sources: China Statistical Yearbook, various years.
Concluding Remarks Throughout the reform era, the state has played a significantly positive role in Chinese economic development – in the form of shaping the condition for industrialization, and direct intervention via industrial policy in the development process. There have been both experiences of success and failure. Successes have been achieved out of an appropriate match between state policy, the market condition, the demand regime, and the actions of the business agents. Conversely, failures have been due to mismatch. In this connection, the structure of Chinese finance – a combination of stronger-than-usual expansionary banks and a system of tougher-than- usual regulations and controls – has served well this particular path of industrialization. Any fundamental financial reform will need to take into consideration the continuous prevalence or otherwise of this state-led industrialization.